Here is today's summary of economic development news, a free service of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, representing Alabama's private sector investment in economic development. If you enjoy NewsFlash, thank an EDPA Partner.
Austal shakeup: General Dynamics eyeing Mobile shipyard
Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 9:50 AM Updated: Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 10:40 AM
By George Talbot
MOBILE, Alabama -- Joe Rella has resigned as president of Austal USA, and the company may be in negotiations to sell at least part of its Mobile shipyard to General Dynamics Corp., according to a maritime analyst.
Tim Colton, who blogs about the shipbuilding business for ColtonCompany.com, said in a post today that "the hot rumor is that a majority interest in the yard is being sold" to General Dynamics, one of the country's largest defense contractors.
Austal did not immediately respond to a request for comment today.
Colton said Dugan Shipway, who retired in 2009 as president of General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, would replace Rella as interim president in Mobile.
"Probably not a bad idea, depending on how the company is restructured," Colton said.
Economist: Alabama job growth lacking
Published: Monday, June 25, 2012, 4:56 PM Updated: Monday, June 25, 2012, 5:10 PM
MOBILE, Alabama -- Don't ask if a recession is over, ask if the recovery has started.
That was the advice Auburn University at Montgomery economist Keivan Deravi gave the more than 200 attendees at the Economic Development Association of Alabama's summer conference on Monday.
Giving his yearly state and national economic update at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa in Point Clear, Deravi said the United States is experiencing the slowest economic recovery in its history, and employment numbers are stagnant.
"Jobs are number one," he said. "We must create 22,000 jobs every month to make the unemployment rate in Alabama go down by 1 percent. In the first five months of 2012, the state has only created about 1,300 jobs a month."
Though the unemployment rate for Alabama lowered in the past year, Deravi said it was due to the 30,000 to 40,000 people that dropped out of the labor force, about 60 percent of them unemployed for more than a year.
Deravi said job recovery nationally was strong during the first quarter of the year, with about 225,000 jobs created per month, but the number fell in April and dropped to about 69,000 jobs created in May.
And while both the United States and Alabama are seeing job creation in manufacturing, the gains are not enough to boost median income.
Alabama-made Honda Odyssey named a best bet for used cars
Published: Monday, June 25, 2012, 2:03 PM Updated: Monday, June 25, 2012, 2:03 PM
By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News
RMINGHAM, Alabama -- Honda's Alabama-built Odyssey minivan has been named one of the 15 Used Car Best Bets for 2012 by Edmunds.com.
The automotive website lists the best bets by segment. The 2005 to 2010 models of the Odyssey topped the minivan/van category.
Edmunds said it compiled the list based on safety, reliability, value and availability. Eligibility was limited to vehicles that are two to seven years old.
The Odyssey is one of the key products at Honda's Talladega County plant, along with the Pilot SUV. Workers there also build the Ridgeline pickup in much smaller numbers.
Another state-made model, the Hyundai Elantra, was named to the list in the compact sedan category. But Hyundai did not begin making the Elantra in Montgomery until late 2010, as a 2011 model.
CEO: Cinram sale to private investment firm is great for Huntsville, employees
Published: Monday, June 25, 2012, 1:15 PM Updated: Monday, June 25, 2012, 4:05 PM
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Cinram International, one of the world's largest providers of multimedia products, has reached agreements with newly formed subsidiaries of Najafi Cos. for the sale of substantially all of Cinram's assets and businesses in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, the company announced today.
To implement the sale, Cinram filed for reorganization protection in Canada and its U.S. subsidiaries filed under Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the District of Delaware.
"This is a positive event," said Cinram Chairman/CEO Steve Brown. "This will see the company going from a public company to a private company.
"This is great for Huntsville and our employees there."
Cinram employs 1,600 people at a DVD manufacturing plant in Huntsville.
In a statement, Cinram said the filings were made to give effect to the sale of the Company's businesses and assets to Najafi Companies and to preserve Cinram's operations and services to its customers while the sale is finalized.
Hong Kong may be gateway to new jobs for Alabama
1:11 AM, Jun. 26, 2012 |
After two separate Alabama delegations spent last week in Asia, leaders returned with what they say is a road map to better trade with China and more jobs for the state.
And that road goes through Hong Kong.
While Alabama's direct exports to Hong Kong more than doubled from 2009 to 2010, state leaders said its biggest value could be as a gateway to the massive but insular economic market of China.
Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield met last week with his Hong Kong counterpart, Permanent Secretary Andrew Wong, to craft a strategy for more investment from China. Canfield said Hong Kong is uniquely situated to play that role because it has an English-based financial structure and legal system despite its close ties with China.
"Their laws are much more compatible to ours," Canfield said. "Their financial structures and institutions are (ones) we're familiar with.
"There's never been a specific strategy for dealing with China, as we've had for other parts of Asia or parts of Europe. It does look very promising that Hong Kong will be a very likely springboard for doing that."
Honda tops Ford as America's favorite auto brand in new survey
By Scott Burgess
Market research firm Harris Interactive has revealed that Mercedes-Benz and Honda are the two strongest auto brands in America according to its survey of more than 38,000 people.The survey, known as the 2012 Harris EquiTrend study, puts a number to all of those warm and fuzzy feelings people have toward a particular brand as a way to measure its equity. Broken down a different way, the survey points out that American's favorite automotive brands are German and Japanese.Mercedes took top honors in the Luxury Automotive Brand of the Year for the second year in a row. It was followed by BMW, Lexus, Cadillac and Acura.In the Full Line Automotive Brand of the Year category, Honda grabbed the top spot, beating out Toyota, Ford (last year's winner), Chevrolet and Nissan. (Apparently Harris' definition of "full line" differs a bit from ours, as brands like Subaru and Hyundai were also included).
Posted Jun 25th 2012 7:15PM
Auburn University leaders dedicate, tour MRI center: $21 million facility now home to 7-tesla MRI scanner
By: | Opelika-Auburn News
Published: June 21, 2012 Updated: June 21, 2012 - 7:31 PM
Members of the Auburn University Board of Trustees and other school leaders toured and held a dedication ceremony Thursday for the university's MRI Research Center.
The $21 million facility located in the Auburn University Research Park opened in 2010, but it is now home to a 7-tesla MRI scanner that will be used starting in July. The 7T scanner is one of about 35 in the world and only two in the Southeast.
An MRI, which stands for magnetic resonance imaging, produces computerized images of the inside of a body using magnetic signals. A tesla is a unit of measurement for the strength of the magnetic field.
The 7T MRI scanner provides greater image clarity compared to 1.5T and 3T scanners, which are the highest certified for clinical use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"This will really help researchers on the Auburn campus as well as faculty at other universities take their research to another level and do research in areas that they were not able to do research in before," said Tom Denney, director of the MRI Research Center.
Number of U.S. businesses fell in 2010: Census Bureau
WASHINGTON | Tue Jun 26, 2012 12:01pm EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. businesses with paid employees fell for a third straight year in 2010, but the rate of decrease slowed, the Census Bureau said on Tuesday.
U.S. businesses numbered 7.4 million in 2010, down by 36,800 from the previous year. The decline between 2008 and 2009 was 168,000 establishments, according to the bureau's "County Business Patterns: 2010" report.
Total employment was 112 million in 2010, a decline of 2.5 million workers. The drop from 2008 to 2009, at the height of the U.S. recession, was 6.4 million employees.
"This year's release of the County Business Patterns shows the overall decline in employment is slowing," William Bostic Jr., associate director for economic programs at the Census Bureau, said in a statement.
Among the top 50 counties by number of businesses, California's Los Angeles County had the biggest decline in total annual payroll, the statement said. The county had a drop of nearly $2 billion, or 1.1 percent, from 2009.
Only Kings County, New York, which comprises the New York borough of Brooklyn, showed an increase in the number of employees, with a rise of 4,400 from 2009.
Among business sectors, construction showed the biggest percentage decline, falling 4.2 percent. The biggest gains were in utilities, healthcare and social assistance, rising 1.7 percent from 2009.
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